Used chopsticks transformed into furniture, decor by ChopValue Boston

Nov 10, 2022, 3:15 PM

wooden chopsticks on an empty bowl...

Chopsticks lie on a bowl at a restaurant in Beijing, China. Millions of used chopsticks that otherwise would have been thrown away are being used to make furniture in Boston. (Guang Niu/Getty Images)

(Guang Niu/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WCVB) — Millions of used chopsticks that otherwise would have been discarded are being transformed into furnishings by a new Boston-area business franchise.

ChopValue Boston collects used chopsticks from area restaurants and transforms them into sterilized, state-of-the-art building tiles through a process that involves sorting, dipping, baking, hammering and pressing.

“It’s very strong,” said Elaine Chow, the founder of ChopValue Boston. “Bamboo is a strong material in itself and when you bundle it all up like this, this has been rated stronger than oak and maple.”

Chow spent decades working in the non-profit world but during the pandemic decided to make a change. She stumbled across a video about ChopValue online and realized there are plenty of used chopsticks in the Boston area to support the business.

“Do people want to buy recycled materials? Do people want to buy sustainable building materials, carbon-negative stuff? The answer to that – I truly believe is yes,” she said.

Once her ChopValue operation was up and running in Charlestown, Chow quickly confirmed her findings.

“We signed up 100 restaurants in March and within six months we had collected almost eight tons of material,” she said.

That’s roughly 2.5 million used chopsticks that are diverted from going to the dump and instead find new life in corporate holiday gifts, light features, tabletops and more.

“A lot of times when people see and touch our product they say ‘Wow, I can’t believe this is made out of chopsticks. I can’t believe it’s made out of recycled materials,'” she said.

ChopValue Boston is only the second franchise in the U.S.

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Used chopsticks transformed into furniture, decor by ChopValue Boston